No Easy Answer.

September 18th, 2012

I’ve never been good at math. All those questions about trains going certain speeds reaching destinations at 11:29am, then asking how many passengers ate peanut butter sandwiches between point A and Tz. Or the endless questions about triangles – they have 3 sides people!!!  Isn’t that all I need to know?

So what hope is there for me to figure out this formula? This one has stumped me for years. I’ve looked at it from every angle, I’ve graphed it in a pie chart, made endless notes about air pressure, flight paths, and the probability of the sky falling. I’ve paced out steps, colour coded charts, and scribbled illegible notes on sticky paper around my office. But still, this formula escapes me.

So I plead with you now to help me with this question –

“You have 3 children. How many questions are you allowed to ask each child in one day?” Take your time, it isn’t as straight forward as it first appears.

The first question can be met with enthusiasm on a good day, tolerance on an average day. Some days I’m allowed to ask a follow-up question, or even a flurry of unrelated ones. Other days this is it, my quota is up. There are times where a long painful sigh is the answer, other times I’ll get a full-blow-by-blow account. Other responses include anything from lets sit down and have a cup of tea to discuss the meaning of life – through to glares, eye rolling, and shoulder shrugs. So again, take you time to figure this out, it’s a complicated formula.

But in the meantime, as I wait for your answers, I’ll just keep taking into account my kids age, time of day, the alignment of planets, and ask as many questions as there are peanut butter sandwiches on the train. Either that, or I’ll simply keep asking till the line runs out.



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  1. Angela says:

    So many variables account for how many questions can be asked a teenager in one day. It depends on if they are a girl or a boy, early teens or late teens, if it’s something they want to talk about, If they are girls-that depends on the time of the month, what kind of relationship you have had with them all along, whether or not you are divorced from their other parent, if they are introvert or extrovert, if they want something, if they just got a boyfriend/girlfriend or just broke up. The list is endless. I am the mother of 2 daughters and I also have 2 step daughters, so I can’t speak from a stand point of having a boy. The ages of our girls are 22, 17, 14 and 13 and there are big differences in that wide range of ages and the type of relationship I have with each one. I will say this, being a parent is the hardest thing we ever do in life!

  2. I fell for your Math introduction (and the fact this was written on my birthday). I was eager to create a formula and was cut short by one of the questions life that could not be always answered in the four corners of a classroom. But should I ever have children of my own, I’ll let you know the answer based on a male perspective and point-of-view, considering we have shorter span of patience. It might be different  with how females will work it out but there will always be a common ground.

    I was impressed by how you write your articles. 

  3. Hymn says:

    Ask them as many questions as you want.  They are just questions.  Unless they are loaded…kids pick up on loaded questions quickly and can turn on you in an instant (and in my opinion have every right to).

  4. Dennis says:

    Sometimes, it’s better not to ask a question to find the answer you are looking for. 

  5. Sam says:

    Aks as many as you want, you are the parent

  6. Nathalie Vasquez says:

    I can’t believe how many parents treat their children like aliens, and are always walking on eggshells around them. YOU are the parent. We must treat children with respect and know how to give them their space, but never tolerate such things as glares, eyes rolling, and shrugs. That is plain down right rude. The relationship should be natural and fear free on the parent’s part at the very least. Questions should arise as they arise, that’s all. If they don’t want to answer, don’t have an answer or dont feel like answering they have the right to let you know, because they have to be able to trust you, but they should respond in a polite, normal way as well.
    All this political correctness is weird. How can children even begin to respect and trust their parents if they are brought up by people who are so insecure, guilty and shaky they have to ask others how many questions they can ask their own children and loose sleep at night over it?  
    I brought up two boys on my own, guilt free, shake free, very secure and sure that kids need someone who establishes boundaries, commands respect and emits a feeling of safety and security for them. One is in college and the other one is almost there. We are very close, the one who went away to college calls me regularly to say hi, the one who stayed with me still hugs me and chats with me in a very trusting companionable way. I made sure they never dared to glare at me but at the same time I made sure they knew they could rely upon me for everything and anything because I treated them in a normal, no nonsense, practical, natural way. I was always consistent with what I promised or forbad so they grew up with a great sense of security and calm. That was all it took.
    Think how it affects kids to have parents who feel they need to pussyfoot around them. I shudder to think of the emotional and social consequences.
    Again, children are not aliens or foreign royal bodies, they are young humans who need someone to look up to,not an equal, not a cool pal or peer, not a friend. They have those at school. 
    People have completely lost all sense of proportion and all sense of rational. That’s why so many children and households are completely imbalanced. All roles are totally out of perspective. 
    Just be normal with them and expect them to be normal with you, but always remember, you are the guide and the parent and should inspire them and enlighten them. No one should ever be dismissive or rude to you. Ever. 

  7. Manjula Nair says:

    It totally depends on whether you have 2 girls n 1boy,all 3 girls,all 3 boys, 2boys n1 girl and above all who is the eldest, youngest and in the middle and their age difference too:):):)

  8. Ask as many questions as the little voice in your head tells you to ask! There are never to many questions (despite what the kids will tell you) and trouble begins when we (as parents) stop asking the questions. kids need boundaries and those boundaries are determined by the answer we receive to the questions we ask!

  9. Leigh says:

    I have a child with ADHD, so I have found that I have more success if important questions are not posed as such. If I start an intriguing conversation, then the questions I have (and more) are sometimes naturally answered. This is usually when I take time to sit and spend time on an activity he enjoys rather than worrying about my routines. This is obviously not something that can happen every day but, when it does, I remind myself I need to make it more of a priority. After all, I didn’t have him so I’d have a clean house! 🙂

  10. Victor says:

    Sometimes not asking, but simply listening, is as important. And, of even greatest important, is focusing on being and not doing.I am a single dad raising two teens on my own after my wife passed away from cancer. I have realized I get more answers and insights when I am simply there for my kids instead of forcing a conversation with questions. This is not to say that questions are not needed sometimes, but many times they get in the way of the flow. Feeling more, thinking less. Being more, doing less.I think the mathematical expression to your question is revealed as:x = 0 .. ∞(that is, x = a range from zero to infinitive):-)

  11. Kiersten says:

    Depends on the question.   “Did you turn that assignment in?” could be translated as “I don’t trust you and you need to be micromanaged.”   I like questions like this:   “You look happy.” (yes, that is a question)     “What’s the 411?”    “Anything I can help you with?”   Those questions usually get translated as “I care about you.”    And just in case, you can also say, “I love you a whole bunch.”

  12. norm Betrue says:

    5 Positive to one negative.

  13. Gerri Songer says:

    Perhaps it’s not the questions that are important; quite possibly, it may be listening that provides the answers you need. 

  14. As long as you can without pulling out your hair. Two things that work for me. The first asking, “What do you think the answer is.”  The second practicing one of my Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises so I can let my thinning hair alone. strong, I have to work at it all the time, but working at it helps. 

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